Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: MAUSD students should begin journeys near home

Editor’s note: This letter was written by Rob Backlund of Lincoln on behalf of his five-month-old.
To The Community Members of Lincoln,
I want to thank each and every Lincoln community member (a robust and diverse group!) who showed up last night for the Mount Abraham Unified School District (MAUSD) Community Conversation at Burnham Hall. I want to thank the MAUSD Community Engagement Committee (composed of local community volunteers from the 5 towns, school board members, and a professional facilitator) for hosting this series of community conversations (one in each of the 5 towns along with two district-wide conversations slated to occur in Bristol on Nov. 5 and 20) regarding the challenges, direction, and decisions facing the MAUSD. I want to thank the district leadership for allowing community members to have a voice and feel empowered in the process regarding future decisions that will occur. Most importantly, I want to thank all of the faculty and staff who are there in the trenches each and every day for each and every student.
After reading, discussing and reflecting on the MAUSD Strategic Plan for 2019-2024 and the MAUSD Strategic Goals, I am excited to say that my first day of kindergarten in 2024 at the Lincoln Community School will be my first steps in a well-rounded, rigorous, inclusive and equitable academic journey. I also realize that MAUSD currently is starring down the challenges of declining student enrollment, aging facilities, and increased stress on taxpayers who help foot the bill for my education. The elephant in the room last night was the fear of community school closure. I know this same elephant will also be travelling to Starksboro, Bristol, Monkton and New Haven for the coming meetings. We did not discuss this guest formally last night, but its underlying presence loomed large, especially when we were asked to envision what “the Lincoln Community School could be/become” in the future (a euphemism for “not a school”). This elephant is slated to be discussed formally in November and then analyzed by leadership and outside entities in January of 2020.
As a future student at Lincoln Community School, I believe that I am no more or less deserving than my fellow classmates of the MAUSH Class of 2037, to start my academic journey in my hometown. I believe that we all deserve the opportunity to start our education close to home in our own local communities. I believe that in order for all MAUSD students to efficiently, effectively and equitably achieve the MAUSD Strategic Goals, which it is imperative to start on day one, in five locally empowered community schools. Elementary education is the “foundation” for which the “house” of lifelong learning is built. To water this idea down to save a few extra dollars on paper in the present sacrifices possibilities for the future. As my dad would put it, “downstream outputs are the direct results of upstream inputs.”
Again, I want to thank all Lincoln community members past, present and future for supporting our community school. In the coming months I invite all community members to join my classmates and I as we advocate for locally empowered elementary education!
Suvi Backlund-Niles
Lincoln Community School Class of ’31, MAUHS Class of ’37

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